Tuesday, February 12, 2013

European Court Rejects Mosque's Complaint Against Azerbaijan

The European Court of Human Rights last week, in a Chamber Judgment, dismissed claims against the government of Azerbaijan brought by a Muslim congregation in Baku.  In Juma Mosque Congregation v. Azerbaijan, (ECHR, Feb. 8, 2013), the congregation sued complaining that the government refused to re-register the congregation unless it subordinated itself to the Caucasus Muslim Board. The congregation was evicted from the state-owned Juma Mosque which they had occupied for 12 years.  The court held that the congregation had failed to exhaust the domestic remedies available to challenge the re-registration refusal. On the congregation's complaint that it was evicted from the mosque, the court held that there is no protected right for a religious group to obtain a place of worship from state authorities.

Becket Fund issued a press release on the decision saying:
The mosque was targeted by the authorities because it would not agree to replace its existing religious leader, Ilgar Ibrahimoglu Allahverdiyev–a prominent democracy and religious liberty activist–with a government-appointed imam